Originally published March 02, 2019
For the past 20 years, you’ve been in a range of roles under others’ roofs including literature Masters graduate, restaurant cook, baker, product developer and magazine food director. At what point did you decide to go out more on your own to teach and inspire people as simply Claire Tansey?
It was between 2015-2016. I’d been at Chatelaine for almost six years and was really looking at what the next 20-25 years was going to look like. There was no logical next step for me in the magazine world so I decided to go out on my own.
What were some of the biggest challenges in the transition, and some of the highlights?
One of the biggest challenges was figuring out what kind of work I really wanted to do. I had an idea of what my freelance roster would look like in terms of clients, but then I actually had to do it and hustle for that work. Then, there were a couple of times in the first six months to a year where I took on clients or projects that weren’t a good fit so I had to go back to the drawing board of my business plans.
It’s always a challenge to hustle when you work for yourself because you don’t get any work unless you work for it. It’s also a huge benefit and bonus of working for yourself because everything feels so earned. When you work at something that you really love and you’re happy with not only the client relationship but also your own work and the execution of the project, it’s just so rewarding and really wonderful.
I love having the opportunity to say yes to clients that I really love and then come up with amazing stuff together with them.
What does a typical day look like in the life of Claire?
I have a little guy so, in the mornings, I get up really early to write by myself before the day actually starts. After the family stuff, breakfast, and the school run, I’m either at my desk writing, planning, calling, editing or I’m in my kitchen developing recipes. I could also be out on the town, going to events or meeting with clients.
It’s different every day, which is another lovely delight of this type of work.
How do you feel social media contributes to your brand, and what are some of your favourite ways of using it?
Social media is such a fantastic way of connecting with people you have never met. The world is so busy and there is so much interesting content out there to consume. If it were just me meeting people, it would be a very slow process but when you’re on social media, there’s a greater opportunity to connect with people.
One of my favourite things to do online is culinary mythbusting. Some people who don’t cook a lot can feel intimidated by cooking and have ideas of things they’re going to do in the kitchen that are wrong. So, I love saying, “guess what, you don’t have to wash chicken, don’t worry about it,” or something feared that’s actually a myth they’ve been telling themselves or hearing. Another myth might be that you can’t wash a cast iron product with soap, making cleaning a process, when actually you can wash it with soap; that kind of thing.
I hope it’s breaking down barriers and getting people to feel more encouraged to get into the kitchen.
How were you first introduced to Branding & Buzzing?
I first met Marian when I was still at Chatelaine as I’d been a Food Director there and was the one on the receiving end of pitches for ideas and events. I was then invited to a Canola Eat Well Event with Branding & Buzzing at the Windsor Arms to do the canola crush and other fun activities.
One of your collaborations since has been with B&B and client Canola Eat Well, having taken part in their local baking workshops and even joined them in Winnipeg for a dinner program centered on your cookbook, Uncomplicated: Taking the Stress Out of Home Cooking. What about Canola Eat Well / Manitoba Canola Growers appealed to you so well while aligning with your personal brand?
My brand is really about uncomplicated food and cooking, and that’s exactly what Canola is. Canola is accessible (you can buy it anywhere), it’s affordable (anyone can buy it) and it’s versatile (you can use it in anything). Plus, it’s Canadian so I had the chance to go to camp, meet some farmers and explore the farms myself.
It’s just a perfect fit with my brand because it’s so easy, fun, delicious and uncomplicated.
You’ve also done food styling and entertaining programs with clients like Conestoga Farms. What are some of your favourite teachings you hope guests take away with them each time?
My hope is that through coming to events or classes with me, or interacting with me, people are empowered to cook at home so they can be happier and healthier in all aspects of their lives. That’s the big theme for me.
On the micro-level, when we do events, I love to mythbust and show people that cooking is not nearly as complicated as they think it is. I also love showing them how fun and peaceful it can be.
When we do something like the Holly Jolly Baking event, it’s already fun because it’s celebratory baking and everyone already loves it. Then, I think people also become impressed and surprised at how beautiful their results are from really simple recipes, using really simple, affordable, accessible ingredients.
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